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Get to grips with filing - the old fashioned way

Filing is not exactly an exciting topic. However, it’s a good idea to have a basic system in place. As well as your accounting records, invoices and bills, you’ll also be storing client information. Clients will put their trust in you to keep their information safe.

With good filing, you’ll be better organised. You will be able to lay your hands on exactly WHAT you need, WHEN you need it - saving time and money.

The law

There’s also the little matter of the Data Protection Act. As a business, you have to comply with the Act by law. If you have information on paper that you plan to store on computer, or on a hard disc, CD, or DVD, it falls under the rules of the Act.

Before we begin...

We’re talking about old fashioned filing here. You know, the real stuff - paper. We’re not talking about virtual files and folders on your computer.

What you need to file

For your private practice, you’ll probably have paper copies of:

  • client names, addresses, medical records and treatment plans
  • bank and credit card statements
  • business and marketing plans and reports
  • records such as medico-legal reports
  • copies of emails or letters
  • receipts, bills and supplier invoices
  • meeting reports
  • accounting records
  • CPD records
  • employee details
  • details of accountants, bookkeepers, etc
  • copies of insurance cover

Security

There’s a huge choice of filing cabinets and storage solutions for the home office. The most important thing to remember is that they should be lockable, fireproof and sturdy. Security is an important aspect of the Data Protection Act. Ideally, filing cabinets should also be kept in a locked room.

Good filing practice

  • segment your files into areas, such as the ones described above
  • organise them alphabetically, or by date, whichever seems most appropriate for the type of file
  • clearly label each hanging file
  • don’t overfill hanging files - they’ll just break and spill their contents into the bottom of the filing cabinet
  • decide how often you will cull your files, either by taking out dormant information for intermediate storage, or destroying the information altogether - remember, the Data Protection Act states that no information should be kept longer than absolutely necessary